Treat Your Career as a Series of Stepping Stones

From The Guardian

Graduates: Don’t hold out for the dream role straight away, but treat your career as a series of stepping stones, with each role enhancing your skills and experience.


Also be open and seize career-making opportunities as they occur rather than sticking rigidly to a mapped-out career.

A recent Careers Talk highlighted that graduates are perceived as lacking in communication, critical thinking and business skills.

So, take on roles for their skill-building value. Even non-graduate roles in retail or service industries build customer-facing and problem-solving skills — useful additions to any CV…

With a little planning, every role you take, contact you make, or project you complete can help edge you towards your dream job.

The Language of Human Thriving

In a TEDx talk, the late Peter Benson, a leader in the positive youth development movement, once said,

I like to ask adults: “What is your highest aspiration for our young?” 

Some interesting things happen.

No one has ever said, “This child of mine, my fondest wish is that they will ace statewide benchmark math and science test when they’re 16.”


I’ve never heard anybody say, “Oh, my fondest wish is that this young person will help make America more competitive in the global economy.”

No, when you actually listen to people’s statements about their dreams for our kids, you hear a very different language. 

“Kids who experience joy, kids who are connected and engaged. Kids who fall in love with their life and all of life, kids with kindness, and generosity. Kids who are happy, kids who contribute.”

That is the language of human thriving.

The best, deepest learning facilitates personal and societal transformation.

We proposed a model to help young people to thrive by finding stepping stones from curiosity to career, building on Peter Benson’s work, as part of our work in Leadership Maine in 2012.

Toward the Integral Internet

The Cluetrain ManifestoTwelve years ago, I was sparked by The Cluetrain Manifesto, a prescient book by Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger. This is from the introduction:

What if the real attraction of the Internet is not its cutting-edge bells and whistles, its jazzy interface or any of the advanced technology that underlies its pipes and wires? What if, instead, the attraction is an atavistic throwback to the prehistoric human fascination with telling tales? Five thousand years ago, the marketplace was the hub of civilization, a place to which traders returned from remote lands with exotic spices, silks, monkeys, parrots, jewels — and fabulous stories.

In many ways, the Internet more resembles an ancient bazaar than it fits the business models companies try to impose upon it. Millions have flocked to the Net in an incredibly short time, not because it was user-friendly — it wasn’t — but because it seemed to offer some intangible quality long missing in action from modern life. In sharp contrast to the alienation wrought by homogenized broadcast media, sterilized mass “culture,” and the enforced anonymity of bureaucratic organizations, the Internet connected people to each other and provided a space in which the human voice would be rapidly rediscovered.

So, if Web 1.0 was the “published Web” and The Cluetrain Manifesto predicted what was to become the “social Web” (Web 2.0), I believe the next iteration, Web 3.0, will be the “Integral Internet,” where the noosphere of virtual knowledge gets better and better at interacting with fundamental human needs, values, and experiences.

Web 1.0 was “It.” We consumed what was delivered to us and our value to the marketplace was measured with demographics and psychographics.

Web 2.0 was “Us.” Now, we could easily create and share our own media with friends and strangers alike, and marketers measured our worth via the social graph of our connections.

Web 3.0 simply “is.” The deepest Integral Internet interacts with the realm of spirit, of breath. We breathe ideas and experiences, and the Internet carries them and amplifies them to others, no matter where they are. See how fast collective experience flows around the world through Twitter and Facebook. As devices become more powerful, more ubiquitous, and more miniaturized, the boundary between virtual and physical will become even more permeable. The Internet itself begins to breathe.

We’re moving toward an era of the hyper-global and the hyper-local. Joyce wrote, “In the particular is contained the universal.” Through our nearest neighbors and neighborhoods — indeed by becoming more present within ourselves — we can experience the universe more deeply.

“Here” and “away” are being inverted for our children. “Exploring” no longer means going to a new part of the world physically first, for we can learn as much through Wikipedia, Google Earth, and local blogs, than we ever used to through travelling as tourists. The greatest unknown to be explored is now within us, the mysteries of who we are: the “who” that sees the world through our particular eyes.

In the past, gatekeepers were required to intermediate our experience of the world — mostly due to less powerful technologies like papyrus and illustrated manuscripts and printing presses. They are no longer needed. We can now experience the universe more directly through the noosphere (Web 3.0, the Integral Internet) and within ourselves.

So, good bye to recorded media production conglomerates, corporate news paper delivery systems, educational institutions that glorify the life of the mind at the expense of the heart and spirit, arbitrary national governments created for stage-coach era communication.

We set our life priorities based on how we see the world. We now have new priorities for new worldviews. Perhaps we can protect that world so our children may steward it with deeper awareness and respect.

This is one of my presentations from 2009. Still relevant.

Designing an Agile Learning Culture for Teams and Organizations

CultureCon 2012I was fortunate to attend CultureCon in Boston, which focused on designing workgroup practices that embrace agile, nimble learning. This is the world into which our students will be growing.

(I’ll be processing all the conference insights for a long time. In the meantime, here are my raw tweets.)

One of the most exciting sessions led to the adoption of a set of definitions, drafted by Jim McCarthy, for Culture Design and Culture Hacking, intended as a first step toward the Agile Manifesto principles which have been applied in software development and beyond.

Until Jim posts the “official” version, here’s a sneak preview:

Culturecon 2012 Lexicon

This is a V0.1 lexicon to enable us to speak coherently with each other and others interested in this work during the dawning era of culture design. It is difficult to foresee what language we will need in its entirety, but here are a few terms we know we need right now.

We are some of the riders of the Happy Bus from Philly Culturecon to Boston Culturecon from September 12-September 14, 2012 or other culture tech leaders who were involved in or leading up to those seminal community creating events.

A Culture is the collection of behaviors, values, commitments and practices that both defines and gives expression to a group. Those components are Culture Elements.

Culture Design is the act of specifying culture elements — along with whatever collateral materials are needed — in order to enable third parties to produce intended cultural effects reliably in their own cultures of interest.

Culture Hacking is culture design that does more than one of the following in notable, admirable ways:

a) Respects/promotes/extends personal freedoms.
b) Increases personal/group democratic powers.
c) Protects personal, psychological, and/or creative safety.
d) Improves the world and/or sets it on a course of continuous improvement.
e) Subverts illegitimate authority.
f) Is especially admirable for one or more of its elegance, cleverness, beauty, efficacy, humor, and other design values of its implementation.

Culture Tech is the whole spectrum and marketplace of designed cultural innovations.

This document was written by Jim McCarthy, and had about 20 signatories. (He has the original and will, I am sure, be posting the entire list.)

Toward Learner-centered Education in Maine

To illustrate learner-centered instruction in action, the Maine Department of Education funded a series of videos focusing on students and teachers at schools that are leading the way. I’m pleased to have crafted the creative strategy, selected the production agency, coordinated the location schedule, and provided post-production feedback. Gum Spirits Productions in Portland did all the phenomenal production work.

This playlist automatically plays all 6 videos in the series.

The Maine DOE has subsequently published case studies about how these schools are navigating the transformation to learner-centered models.

Learning for change

The New Brunswick Department of Education has captured the shift toward learner-centered education with this energetic video.

This video was produced to stimulate discussion among educators and other stakeholders in public education in the province of New Brunswick. The 21st century presents unique challenges for education worldwide. In order to keep pace with global change we must focus on 21st Century Skills and public education must adapt to keep students engaged. Rigor and relevance are key.

Great resonance with the work underway within Maine’s Education Evolving initiative.

Learning in a wisdom economy

Elementary school robotics challenge
Elementary school robotics challenge, by Candace Wright

I have been involved with learning media for over 30 years, from promoting American public television programs, to producing learning resources for school districts and regional non-profit organizations, to communicating innovations in research and academics within higher education.

For me, this is the most exciting time of all to be working in this field, as creative technologies are beginning to allow students to pursue their interests, learn at their own pace, and connect with other learners, anywhere, anytime.

I am excited for my 9-year-old daughter, growing up in these fascinating times. For her, knowledge is at her fingertips, her interests are becoming a primary frame for learning both in school and out, and she is making connections between her everyday life and the generations of learners who have discovered these paths before us.

Like all parents and children, we are navigating through a new set of digital citizenship skills that are helping us thrive. With that opportunity, however, comes responsibility, and we are learning, and relearning, how to live in this new world safely, everyday.

Although we can now easily access knowledge and integrate it into our lives, what really matters is how we make choices based on that knowledge. We’ve moved from an information- and knowledge-based economy toward a wisdom economy, where every decision, small and large, is based on a deeper awareness of connections between people, places, and ideas.

Life itself is the ultimate interdisciplinary classroom.

Toward learner-centered education in Canada

IT4K12 logoI was honored to make a keynote presentation at British Columbia’s first IT4K12 conference in Vancouver this week. I met many education technology leaders who are working toward a learner-centered education system, and several demonstrated inspiring successes.

I also met Robert Martellacci of the e-learning technology consultancy Mind Share Learning; be sure to listen to his excellent interview with Susan Mann, CEO, Education Services Australia.

Through Robert, I learned more about the C21 initiative: Canadians for 21st Century Learning and Innovation which recently brought together 50 leaders from across Canada to “discuss their ideas on 21st Century learning and the changes needed to move the country’s educational system forward.”

The president of C21Canada is John Kershaw, former Deputy Minister of Education for New Brunswick.

From problem solvers to problem finders

In the classrooms in which I work, students explore the twenty or so themes upon which our planet really depends, immerse themselves in the ideas and information their teachers, peers and whole communities can impart, find the problems they feel are worth solving, theorise which ones will work and then try them out in a prototype. Continue reading

Peter Benson on Sparks: How youth thrive

Every teenager has a spark — something inside that is good, beautiful, and useful to the world. Sparks illuminate a young person’s life and give it meaning and purpose…

Just ask a teen: “Tell me what it is about you that gives you joy and energy? What’s going on in those moments when life feels the richest and the fullest, with purpose and hope. What is your spark? I’m dying to know.”

Peter L. Benson (1946-2011) was one of the world’s leading authorities on positive human development. Dr. Benson was the author or editor of more than a dozen books on child and adolescent development and social change, including, most recently, Sparks: How Parents Can Help Ignite the Hidden Strengths of Teenagers…